Digital storytelling is one of the most powerful modes of conveying a point of view. No matter who you are, where you're from, or what you're interested in, there is a digital photostory that create. Digital photostories integrate visual images with voice-overs to tell a story. I have heard and seen stories that are informational, silly, sad, inspiring, heart-wrenching, controversial, and intriguing. I have seen and heard digital photostories from people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life.

The beauty of the digital photostory is that students and teachers can use either personal or stock images to tell their stories. This enables the story to become personal or representative of what the story is about without requiring students and teachers to have actual photos from their lives and experiences. Because of this freedom, digital photostories lend themselves to a higher level of creativity and collaboration. Sites like flickr.com allow students to share photos with people from all over the globe. There is no limit to the variations that teachers of all levels and contents can use in digital photostories.

One of the best collections of digital photostories online is the Center for Digital Storytelling. This site holds an amazing collection of powerful digital photostories from a wide variety of authors. The photostories collected on this site can easily be used as samples to inspire students to write and develop their own photostories.

Another method of using the digital photostory in the classroom is to challenge your students with a photostory game. Two that I've found to be super creative and fun are "Five Card Flickr", where students have to use five cards on flickr.com to tell a thematic story, and "Five Card Nancy", where students use old comic strips to work together in creating a story. (This idea could be adapted to use comic strips other than Nancy.)

In terms of sharing a personal experience or vision with the rest of the world, you could not ask for a better vehicle for sharing than this one. Because images as pretty universal and can be accessed around the world, students and teachers can extend their communication beyond the classroom walls with great fluidity. A site called iReport Photo Club sends students on missions and asks for users to upload images related to the assignments. What a great way to see how one set of questions can receive a variety of photographic answers.

This strategy can be extended to incorporate the use of student poetry and poetry written by famous authors. This is a sample site that I love to show students as an inspiration for graphic poetry. Last year, a class of my students shared their visual interpretations of some famous Shakespearian lines with a group on flickr.com called "Free Verse", which asks groups members to contribute "include lines from a favorite poem written off the page in an unexpected or ephemeral way". Several of my students used the text of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in their photographic creations. It was a huge success with my students and they loved seeing their photos posted alongside hundreds of others from around the world.

I feel like I could go on and on about the wonder that is digital photostorytelling (A word? Hm.) The last area that I want to mention (for now) is a photostory contest that I learned about last year. I am excited to invite my students to participate this year. Please note that there are segments of this contest that apply to all educational levels.

A Free Verse group submission created using the hand of an eleventh grade student, marker, and a powerful line from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
A Free Verse group submission created using the hand of an eleventh grade student, marker, and a powerful line from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.